Whether you’re drafting your first Will, creating a trust, or updating an existing estate plan, it’s important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. But how do you find the right one for you?
If you’re a Virginia resident, here are some tips for vetting and hiring an estate planning attorney in your area.
1. Look outside your immediate city.
There may be a nearby estate planning attorney’s office, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to the city you live in. Expert estate planning lawyers are located all over Northern Virginia, so don’t be afraid to broaden your search. In today’s era of virtual meetings, you can opt to work with the most qualified attorney instead of the one who is in the closest geographic proximity.
2. Check out the attorney’s blog and social media channels.
As you research different candidates, consider the quality of advice they offer on their website and in any published articles they have written. Attorneys with a solid blog and social media presence are typically invested in educating their clients and providing a good client experience.
3. Ask financial advisors or accountants for a referral.
Another good way to find a qualified estate planner is to ask for a referral from someone on your financial team. This could be your personal banker, financial advisor, or accountant. These people all have an intimate knowledge of your financial situation and may have additional insight on who has the experience to help you with your estate plan.
Even if they don’t have a full understanding of what your estate includes, they are still likely to have connections with other members of the financial community who can be added to your list of prospects.
4. Interview each prospective attorney.
Even if you find someone who has a portfolio of written work in the field of estate planning and they are highly recommended by your financial advisor, it’s still important to take the time to interview any attorney you’re considering.
Some questions you may want to consider asking include:
- Where did you receive your degree?
- How long have you been practicing estate planning law?
- Who will be my point of contact and how will you communicate with me?
- What is your rate and do you charge by the hour or a fixed rate?
- How should I contact you if I have questions? Telephone, email, text, video chat?
Beyond providing satisfactory answers to these questions, it’s also important that you are able to establish a good relationship with the attorney you choose. An interview gives you the opportunity to discover whether you feel comfortable with each candidate.
5. Consult other types of attorneys.
Another way to find an experienced estate planning attorney is to ask for a referral from other members of your legal team. Attorneys who specialize in other fields such as business law or real estate can often offer recommendations from their extended professional network such as someone who works for their firm or law networking group.
Whether you’re looking for help creating your first estate plan or you have an outdated one that you want to update, it’s best to work directly with an experienced estate planning attorney to navigate the legal system and ensure your wishes are carried out. We’d be honored to work with you to create a plan that protects your family. Schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor to find out how we can help you.